Balancing recreational and passive uses at Commonwealth Park was one of the topics discussed at the first meeting of a committee that is working on a new master plan for the park.

The committee convened on April 10 at Jeffrey Mansion.

The Bexley Recreation and Parks Department selected the committee members from 15 residents who applied earlier this year. The committee includes three residents who live near Commonwealth Park, one resident from another area of the city and two residents who use the park and live in any area of Bexley.

Some of the sports teams that currently use Commonwealth Park may be able to shift their practices to new athletics fields that are scheduled to open in the Ferndale Place/Mayfield Place neighborhood in southwest Bexley later this year, said Michael Price, recreation director.

"The hope is that we can move some of that wear and tear off the park," he said.

Although the new master plan will not increase athletics use at Commonwealth, "even adding that field at Ferndale/Mayfield still doesn't address our lack of greenspace as a whole or change the need to have active use at Commonwealth Park," Price said.

The master plan also should address parking, he said.

Some residents who live in the area have suggested that parking should be allowed on only one side of streets that border the park.

"In general, (parking) needs to be something that we put some attention and thought into and figure out what the best approach is," he said.

Another issue the committee discussed was whether a portion of Columbia Avenue should be closed off to join the east and west portions of Commonwealth Park.

"What happens if we do close it off ... and how is that going to affect traffic patterns?" asked Elena Andrews, a committee member. "It might not make sense for any number of reasons, but I think it is something we should consider at this point."

Andrews, who also serves on the Tree and Public Gardens Commission, raised the issue of how to preserve trees if any development occurs at the park.

"Our general policy is not to cut down healthy trees ever," Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler said.

The committee voted to elect Andrews as chairwoman of the committee and Christine Poon as vice chairwoman. The committee is working with Columbus design firm Brian Kent Jones to guide the process of drafting the Commonwealth Park master plan.

Jones said the committee would work in three phases: an information-gathering phase that will last through May, the drafting of an initial version of the master plan in June and August and the completion of a final plan with cost estimates in September and October.

Meetings to gather public input will be held throughout the planning process, and the final plan will be sent to local boards and commissions for review and approval, Jones said.

The committee's next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 24 at Jeffrey Mansion, 165 N. Parkview Ave. For more information, visit bexley.org.

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